April 17, 2009, 9:34 AM — Somewhere around 2 am ET this morning, Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to one million followers on Twitter; the first user to hit that mark.
Kutcher had thrown down the challenge a few days ago, jokingly at first, but as more and more Twitter followers got word of the contest, it gained steam and significance, as Kutcher pledged to donate $100,000 to the charity Malaria No More if he won, while game publisher Electronic Arts offered prizes for various follower milestones. Apparently (I hang my head in shame by admitting I went to bed) in the closing moments of the contest, CNN's Anderson Cooper was live on TV promoting the CNN account, while Kutcher, as befits his 'new media' angle, was live on ustream.tv, surround by wife Demi Moore and an assortment of friends.
Kutcher has been pushing this as a battle of new media vs old. After the counter ticked past the one million mark, the Kutcher party celebrated with champagne and then Kutcher gave a little acceptance speech saying in part "Today we have done something extraordinarily special. We have shown the world the new wave is here, it is present, and it is ready to explode." He then went on to thank Ted Turner for being a pioneer in his own right, as well as many of the people who helped get Kutcher involved in Twitter and new media in the first place.
This happened early on the same day that Oprah is scheduled to talk about Twitter on her show, with guests including Twitter co-founded Ev Williams as well as, of course, Ashton Kutcher. So is this the day that Twitter goes mainstream?
The worst you can say about this contest is that a worthy charity got $100,000. But what do you think? Was this just a silly publicity stunt, or is the one million followers mark significant?
Here's the ustream video of Kutcher and gang. It's long, and the first half or so is pretty rowdy, but after the win you can listen to Kutcher's speech in full.